Expansions and Renovations Increasing Services to Communities, Profits for Entrepreneurs in Rural Armenia
Participants in a Near East Foundation project in rural Armenia are flourishing with access to expanded modern services and new training opportunities.
In rural Armenia, access to IT services and amenities has been limited to only a few places. NEF is working with local entrepreneurs and partners to create sustainable businesses and training programs to help meet the growing demand and create new opportunities for rural Armenians.
In 2012 the opportunities have included driver’s education training, offered by project partners the Gegharkunik Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Zartnir franchised computer centers. As part of a pilot program, several centers installed “Practical Driving” simulator software on their computers to prepare participants to drive successfully and pass their driver’s license tests. For people who live in remote areas, obtaining a driver’s license is essential to having the mobility and capacity to obtain jobs at a non-walkable distance. In the future, trainings will be expanded to other computer centers within the Zartnir network.
In February of 2012 the Zartnir computer centers also succeeded in paying back the loans they received The Zartnir franchise of computer centers was launched in 2010 with support from the “Successful Start” Foundation, a program through the Gegharkunik Chamber. In February 2012, the centers successfully completed payback of the start-up loans they received. Now that the centers are established and independent, they are now able to offer new services to the community and update their businesses. These updates can have a significant effect on the influx of customers, and increase the computer center’s income.
In Noratus, for example, the computer center has been renovated to replicate European-style computer centers and better suit customer needs. Computers for internet use have been separated from computers used by children playing computer games. This has created a more suitable environment for each customer, and gives the center a more professional atmosphere.
The Vaghashen center is preparing to launch a new business venture – a 3D cinema. The franchise owner is collaborating with the Gegharkunik Chamber to create a business plan for the cinema, which will target a youth audience. Chamber leaders are supporting the business expansion and the center owner has received financing, in the amount of 350,000 Armenian Drams (just under $1,000), to buy a 3D projector. Currently, he is renovating a space to make it suitable for a cinema.
These expansions and computer center renovations aim to attract more customers and increase profits by increasing the variety and quality of services available to the community.